Yakhni Kousa

First, the name: “Yakhni” is a word, which I believe is of Farsi origin, that is used from the Balkans to Pakistan to describe various styles of dishes. In the Middle East, it usually refers to a stew. “Kousa” is Arabic for zucchini or, more commonly in the Middle East and as seen here, the gray squash, which is the zucchini’s sister. Either can be used for this dish—yakhni kousa, zucchini stew.

First cut some lamb or beef into cubes, and brown them in some olive oil; sprinkle in some salt and black pepper. As the meat is browning, wash and cut your zucchini or gray squash into slices that are about an inch thick. Once the meat is thoroughly browned, add your slices and let them get a little color. Then, add either tomato paste diluted in water, or crushed tomato (which you may also have to add some water to), to create a fairly thin tomato sauce. Let the vegetable and meat simmer in this sauce until fully cooked, adjusting salt and pepper to taste. When the stew has cooked, add quite a bit of the following: crushed garlic, chopped fresh or crushed dried mint, and lemon juice. These should be added at the last minutes of cooking, so they retain a sharp freshness that lifts the dish. Serve with hot rice.

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